HUGS Hawaii goes virtual to support kids with serious illnesses and their families

HUGS Hawaii goes virtual to support kids with serious illnesses and their families

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - HUGS Hawaii works with hundreds of families across the state who have one thing in common: They have a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or disease.

“You go on for years, sometimes, having to care for them, not knowing what they’re prognosis will be,” HUGS executive director Joan Naguwa said.

The non-profit provides emotional and sometimes financial support.

Tristan Fung said HUGS help is indispensable. His daughter, Kayla, was born with an intestinal disorder.

“No matter what situation you are in they are always able to lend a helping hand,” he said.

Despite COVID-19, HUGS has stayed connected with its community.

“We have family events. We have nights just for moms, nights just for dads, stuff just for kids and also for siblings as well,” Naguwa said.

The events are all online from group sessions for parents to special shows for keiki.

“They’ve also had stuff for my daughter. They had a pizza party night where they did some magic and then made slime. She enjoyed that,” Fung said.

The pandemic forced the pivot, but HUGS embraced the change to virtual meetings.

“This weekend is Halloween, so usually we have right here at HUGS a Halloween party. The kids come dressed up. But we can’t do that so it’s going to be a virtual event,” Naguwa said.

HUGS also increased its food donations for families who can’t go to food distributions and risk exposing their child to the virus.

“Since COVID we’ve doubled the amount of food baskets that we’ve given out to our families,” Naguwa said.

She said the non-profit needs help so it can offer more assistance to families who need it.

“It’s really about community, putting hugs around these children and these families,” she said.

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